At What Age Should Children Own A Smartphone? [MakeUseOf Poll]

polls   At What Age Should Children Own A Smartphone? [MakeUseOf Poll]Last week we asked you which mobile OS you’re currently using. Aside from learning about the different OSs MakeUseOf readers use, we were also curious to find out which mobile OS is the most popular among our readers? Curious too? Keep reading!

Out of 593 voters, 1% use Samsung Bada, 2% use Blackberry OS, 6.5% use Windows Phone, 8% use Nokia Symbian, 24% use iOS, and the winner by a far margin is Android, with 53%. 4% use none of the above, and 1.5% don’t own a phone.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

Expecting the results to be much closer, we were surprised by Android’s significant lead. While it’s only about 600 voters, it seems that Android is by far the more popular OS among our readers. If you’re an iOS user and think differently, perhaps you should have voted!

poll results2   At What Age Should Children Own A Smartphone? [MakeUseOf Poll]

This week’s poll question is: At What Age Should Children Own A Smartphone?

When I was a child, there were no cell phones. I got my first phone when I was 18, and many got one even later. Later on, children began to use cell phones earlier and earlier, and today we’re seeing the same trend with smartphones. For the purpose of this poll, let’s say a child is anyone 13 years old or younger. Do you think children should own a smartphone at this age or not? Are smartphones a good influence and can they benefit children, or should they be avoided until they’re older?

Be sure to explain in the comments why you chose the answer you did. Since it’s hard to think of every possible answer in a poll like this, let us know what you think.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

56 Comments -

Becca

I grew up in the age of cell phones- I’m 21 now. I got my first phone (a brick with no extra features other than a calculator) when I started high school. The reasoning was that I was playing sports and would need to be able to call my parents to come pick me up when practices and games were over. My boyfriends 12 year old sister has an iPhone which I think is absolutely insane

Mark O’Neill

It’s a status symbol isn’t it? Everyone at school has to have the latest model and anyone with a cheapy model gets picked on. It’s always been like that at school and it will never change.

Yaara Lancet

You’re probably right about this, but I feel like these status symbols weren’t super-expensive pieces of electronics when we were growing up. Maybe it’s just me being old, though. :)

Mark O’Neill

We’re both getting old! Back when I was at school in the late 1980’s, it was who had the most expensive Walkman!

(Cue people now asking “what’s a Walkman?!”). LOL! :-)

Achraf52

No, we know that Walkman was a cassette based Sony device which read music and I also owned one in my 8 year .

Achraf52

No, we know that Walkman was a cassette based Sony device which read music and I also owned one in my 8 year, no I am 16 years .

Rebecca

Actually, I’m 18 and I have a Walkman. XD It’s the new model of it just made a few years ago, not really much like the originals of course, but I was totally thrilled when I figured out that was the name of it.

CW

Children should have smartphones when they are old enough to buy one and pay for the contract with their own money. Parents who buy their kids smartphones and then pay the monthly bill for them are just trying to score points or be ‘cool’ IMO.

Rebecca

Exactly! I absolutely agree. My mom offered to buy me a smartphone for Christmas as one of my presents, but I told her I only want to have a smartphone if I can pay for it myself. Things are just totally different when I earn them — like my current cellphone, which I bought and pay the bill for every month, and my laptop, which I paid for completely by myself.

I plan to have a smartphone when I go to college in the fall, but only if I can save up the money myself. In my mind, that’s the only way to go, especially for helping kids realize the value of money and the things they own.

journcy

I think that YOUNG children (7-8 and below) don’t really need any sort of electronics, and would be better suited running around. Past that, something along the lines of an iTouch would be suitable until the parents determine a phone is necessary, at which point they could be upgraded. (Of course, all this only if it’s possible in the budget and whatnot, I’m talking best-case scenario.)

Brian

Where do you go to vote on the poll?

Yaara Lancet

Some weird bug snatched the poll from the page. :) You can vote now!

karen

my oldest three got their first cellphone when they got their learner’s permit at 16. my youngest got hers at 14, not because she’s special, but because she has been the most active and it has made both of our lives easier. none of the kids have smart phones and won’t until they decide to pay for their own.

Yaara Lancet

Sounds very logical! Didn’t they get picked on at school for not having cell phones until the age of 16? Or was it common for kids not to have them?

Sage

Smart phones can be modified (parental controls) – I think the real Q is: When should a child first get a mobile phone! I think they could have a phone as young as 6! (as long as you lock the phone to family calls only.

Yaara Lancet

They probably could have one, but should they? The interesting question is whether or not 6-year-olds even need a phone, what do you think?

Rebecca

I didn’t get a phone until I was about 12-13, I think, and even then I shared it with my older sister. We only got one because we starting going to Girl Scouts and needed a way to contact our parents when we were done.

It really depends on when a kid gets active socially away from the parents. But my opinion is that 13 is a good age to first have a phone, and its a good way to teach them how to manage money — give them a pay-as-you-go phone and have them earn the money to renew it every month. Then they’ll be better about not going over and also they’ll take better care of the phone. :)

Joshua Clarke

There’s no poll…. :(

Yaara Lancet

Sorry, there was some kind of weird bug with the poll system. It’s there now!

Stadcat

Like Josh said: There’s no poll.

Yaara Lancet

Yep, a bug ate it. It’s back where it should be now and you all can vote. :)

Praseena deepak

I think,in this computer era,smartphone and every other similar things is a good influence for the children.but it is fine that allow child to use these in the presence of parents .

dman977

They should get a smartphone when they can pay for it themselves.

Brian Copper

In today’s world children should have one of those Basic 3-4 button phones, emergency dialing only. to call 911, home, mom/dad’s phone only. i worked for a cell company and I got a lot of calls thanking us for such a phone.

Yaara Lancet

That sounds like a good solution. Make use of the technology to help parents remain calmer. :)

Achraf52

Great we hope this kind of phone come to the hands of everyone .

Susendeep Dutta

Children should not have cellphone at all as it’ll increase financial burden on them and the children will become addicted to it.They will run behind every latest release of their favourite brand which they couldn’t be able to control themselves.

Tony

Yup, That happens everytime. Children are so eager to get the latest iPhone! (if they already had one)

Bryan

Not exactly. I have an iPhone 4 now and I am only getting another phone when the contract expires. Since my contract works in a way where you can’t renew it.

Mark O’Neill

I didn’t get my first phone until I was 23! And it was a tiny little thing with crappy reception and I stupidly signed a contract I couldn’t afford. So it put me into serious debt. So when I eventually have children, I will make sure they can’t have a “proper” phone until they understand the value of it and the financial obligations involved with a contract.

In the meantime, I may get them a basic no-frills phone so they can call me and I can call them. No doubt I will get dog’s abuse from them but well…such is the life of a parent I guess!!

Yaara Lancet

I actually liked my first phone. I think it was a Nokia 5120 and it was awesome. :)

Mark O’Neill

I liked my first phone too – until I discovered that calls would get dropped if I walked under a tree! :-/

astrogirl

My son is 14 and he has a standard mobile, that he can use for emergencies, and to text the odd friend or two. I don’t feel that he needs or even really wants a smart phone. But I do feel he should have a standard phone. It has definitely come in handy when he has been running late or has needed to be picked up.

That said, I think it really depends on the child and the parent both. Is the child mature enough to handle using a smart phone? Are you? Are you going to be able to monitor the usage, the data (which can be expensive, particularly in some countries), make sure the child is being safe and responsible as you would if the child was using a computer? Because just like a computer, a smart phone is a portal to chat rooms, email and other places of contact with strangers. Its up to us as parents to ensure that the phone is used within limits. If we can’t do that, how can we expect a child to?

abhishek

in my view children should not be given a smartphone at all. but if the child is active and out of home for considerable time he should be given a phone may be a nokia.

Kyem Ghosh

even I have seen a child having the eBooks of his school text book in a Micromax Funbook. He might be some what 6-7 (may be studying in class 1). As the technology is advancing, we are alwaying needing to have a slave with us and they are just the smart gadgets, which provides unlimited entertainment, knowledge etc etc….. But there might be health concerns too, but still everybody has to die some day. So I think they should be allowed to have one when they become responsible of not losing or breaking it. But I would surely prefer them not to use the networks in their gadgets cz they may be misguided in their small tender ages. So they should have smart gadgets like smart tabs in offline mode and if they need to access networks, that should always be under parent’s supervision.

Kevin Liske

Our child *might* get an old, handme down smart phone after the age of 14. It will depend on him and our assessment at that time. Kids younger than 14 don’t need something that expensive or sophisticated. Heck, I’m not even sure if *I* qualify for having a smart phone.

Yaara Lancet

Yeah, I know what you mean. :) I only got my first one less than a year ago, and it’s a used, hand-me-down device that was lying around the house. I still can’t bring myself to buy a brand new smartphone for myself.

A Responsible Parent

WTF. 13 or younger and having a SMART phone and the associated Data Plan expense that goes with it? Kids lose and break things all the time at that age. We as a society are giving our kids WAY too much at an early age without them warranting it. We spoil our kids way too much. We didn’t have cell phones let alone smart phones growing up. There is NO need to give a CHILD an expensive item like this.

Yaara Lancet

What do you think about regular phones? Should kids have those?

A Responsible Parent

WTF? Children ages 13 and younger having a SMART phone; RU kidding me? At that age they lose and break things. They are not responsible enough to own one. They do not DESERVE one at that age. They are KIDS. They have no NEED to have one. We as a society have to stop spoiling these kids.

Dean

Our girls, 4 and 7, have inherited an old iPod Touch and iPhone 3GS, respectively. BUT, they don’t have phone service and they are still tied to my wife’s account. They can’t purchase apps, and we control the apps and media on the devices. I’m not sure when they will get activated phones, but they will probably be tied to us getting new devices, not new.

Chuck

The should be able to get a smart phone when they can afford to pay for the phone and the phone subscription plan. Otherwise, they get the old flip phone and like it. And get off my lawn!

Anon

Only for emergencies! infact they make special phones for this reason

http://www.cnet.com.au/mobiles2go-i-kids-240064102.htm

http://www.fireflymobile.com/

Daniel Johnson

Regular cell when they start to drive.

Yz1

Children should have locked down smartphones just as soon as they are old enough not to lose it. It not only will allow them to call presaved numbers, Home, Mom, Dad, Police, but it also allows the parents to track them via GPS service and the police to find them via cellular triangulation.

Yaara Lancet

That’s an interesting thought. But I have to day, calling presaved numbers and cellular triangulation are possible with regular cell phones as well. The GPS tracking, however, is possibly not.

Did you actually get the chance to use smartphones in this way?

Yzr1

No, but I have used throw away standard phones this way. It is useful at work too. I can hand someone or leave a phone at a site knowing that they can contact myself, staff, or emergency personnel without worrying about running up charges or someone walking away with it.
I like the newer smart phones though because, if I am concerned, I can hide one in a toolbox or piece of equipment and track it via the web or receive notice if it moves.

I feel this is paramount with younger children. Knowing where they are and that I can reach out to them and they me is immeasurable. I would however not feel this to be as appropriate for teenagers. Trust and privacy are more important than security at some ages, but feeling safe and secure I would expect would be more important not only for the safety, but also the development of younger children.

I’m personally still not sure if remotely “listening” or “eavesdropping” via smartphones with children is right. But I would err for their safety.

Old grumpy mom

I have a 22 year old who got a flip phone at the age of 16 after she got her license and she still doesn’t want a smart phone. Then I have a 14 year old who tells me daily that he is the only kid who doesn’t have an I-phone and that I am ruining his life. We finally consented to a plain old cell phone when he turned 14, but that just isn’t cool. I think parents who let their kids have smart phones are being naive and waaay too trusting, especially of boys. I have parental controls at the router level via OpenDNS, so my son cannot access porn on any of his devices, but his friends can look at it (and so can he along with them) while sitting on the school bus! Give me a break people! Don’t you remember what you were like when you were that age???
I don’t care if they can pay for it or not. I think parents have a responsibility NOT to allow that kind of access to their kids until they AND their friends are old enough to surf the internet without filters and supervision. Which is when they go to college or graduate from high school.

lnsu

Love it “OLD GRUMPY MOM”

Lukas A

When they are able to be an evening on their own. That way you also promote independence.

Dylan

18, until then they should experience a normal cellphone (No offense kids).

Justin

I think they should own a smartphone when they are ready to use one. Was I ever to young to work on a computer? Was I ever to young to jam on a Nintendo? Was I ever to young to watch television? I hear 50 year old adults being overwhelmed with an Iphone, whilst their 5 year old in kindergarten can work it better than them. They provide knowledge and communication at their fingertips. We are connected to each other more than ever in today’s day in age. Of course, it’s also a responsibility.If you want a phone, you are going to work for it. I teaches more than any teacher I ever had, and I was ripping apart laptops at 6.

Honestly, Parents are scared that they one day they will have to rely on their children with electronics. If parents can’t work it, how can a kid? Right? It’s a tool people. What they choose to do with that tool is who they are as a person. I can use a wrench to fix a car… or I can use a wrench to break a window. I can use a smart phone to call, text, and surf the web, or I can use the phone to prank call the police.

Exposure or Prevention? What is the correct method? I would be pissed if the first computer I touched was in 2005. They are the catalyst in making sure there is food on my table and a roof over my head. Who knows what I would be doing if I’ve never touched one. I would still be doing the same thing with a LOT less knowledge. Thank you Dad for allowing me to become what I wanted to be.

Yaara Lancet

Thanks for the comment Justin, it’s an interesting point of view on the subject. Let children who are up to it play with smartphones, it might become their future income source!

Tiana

I disagree. I’m 12 and I just got an iPhone 4. I do not believe that kids my age need on at all. I do however only judge if they need one or not on their maturity level, not on age. I only have the phone because I have to pay 20 a month for the phone. Now the question was do kids under 19 need a smart phone Android, Blackberry, etc. I truly believe that age is just a number and that’s same in the aspect of kids having smart phones.

And also many kids in my school have smart phones and in most cases all the popular kids have them. That is however not the reason I got a iPhone. I got it because I love technology.. Hope this helped!

Yaara Lancet

Thanks Tiana! It’s great to have an opinion from someone younger. All of us who grew up without even having cell phones around can’t really imagine what it’s like to grow up with smartphones.

I think you have a very valid point. We tend to forget sometimes that age is just a number. Some people at 12 won’t be responsible enough, and some will.

Hope you enjoy your iPhone!

Pokedexg

i got my first phone when i was 5 it could only call my other mom got it for me then the next year my step mom got me one because she worked over night at NYSEG and i would spend the night with my other mom and if i need to i could call/text her or call 911. Now im 11 and i have a lg encore gt550 on my step moms contract its a touch screen feuture phone.